Anyone who knows me, also knows that my constant bitching & moaning about the lack of session beer in the US is a feature as fundamental to my being as my ‘Englishness’, so it has become a bit of a joke in the beer circles that I move in; ‘Oh, here comes ‘4% Ding’, order him a session Russian Imperial Stout’ etc. On the surface I laugh it off, but of course many of you know that this is a serious business to me and quite frankly those comments wear a little thin. Having said that, they are made in good faith and they ARE ‘jokes’, but what is NOT as funny is when people glibly say that in reality there IS lots of true session beer available in the US – there simply is not, and the fallacy that around every corner one can fine a wide array of carefully crafted sub-4% beer is exactly that – a fallacy.
Rather than pointing to anecdotal evidence, I constantly reference a super piece written by Ken Weaver close to 18 months ago. Now, since that piece was written it IS true that many more, lower ABV beers have been brewed in the US craft scene, but my bet (and the challenge to Ken is to repeat his statistical analysis for my benefit) is that very, very little of it is 4% and below, AND that the average ABV of new beer in the US is STILL ridiculously high. In short, despite the fact that more lower ABV IS being made in the US, there is NOT a low ABV revolution occurring in the American craft scene.
Of course, Ken and I disagree COMPLETELY about the ABV limit of session beer, but his numbers still help to demonstrate my overall point about the difficulty of finding session beer in the US. In fact, with the ceiling of 5.5% that he uses one can hardly find much craft session beer, and with my (correct) definition, there’s virtually none. Either way I’d love to see the numbers re-run with a couple of other things investigated. One with a 4% ceiling, and the other with the introduction of 2010 and 2011 numbers. I suspect that analysis may dispel the silly idea that America is now in the throws of some massive, low ABV craft revolution. So, as I was drinking (actually cautiously sipping over several hours) my 22 oz of 9.90%, Smuttynose Homunculus last night, I thought, how about it, Ken?